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Chongyang Festival

An Introduction to Chongyang Festival

September the 9th is the traditional Chongyang Festival in China. Because number 6 was stipulated as a yin number and 9 as a yang number, so the day of September the 9th became Chongyang Festival.(In Chinese language, chong means double) or called as Chongjiu(double nine) Festival.

The origin of Chongyang Festival
It is hard to say when this festival was created. But there are many stories which are closely related. The book Xu Qi Xie Ji, written by Wu Jun in the sixth century has one such story. In ancient times, there lived a man named Huan Jing. He was learning the magic arts from Fei Changfang, who had become an immortal after many years of practicing Taoism. One day, the two were climbing a muntain. Fei Changfang suddenly stopped and looked very upset. He told Huan Jing, on the ninth day of the ninth month, disaster will come to your hometown. You must go home immediately. Remember to make a red bag for each one of your family members and put a spray of dogwood in every one. Then you must all tie your bags to your arms, leave home quickly and climb to the top of a mountain. Most importantly, you must all drink some chrysanthemum wine. Only by doing so can your family avoids this disaster.   

On hearing this, Huan Jing rushed home and asked his family to do exactly as his teacher said. The whole family climbed a nearby mountain and did not return until the evening. When they got back home, they found all their animals dead, including chickens, sheep, dogs and even the powerful ox. Later Huan Jing told his teacher, Fei Changfang, about this. Fei said the poultry and livestock died in place of Huan Jing's family, who escaped disaster by following his instructions. 

Ever since then, climbing a mountain, carrying a spray of dogwood and drinking chrysanthemum wine became the traditional activities of the Double Ninth Festival, to avoid evil spirits and misfortunes.  

Activities in Chongyang Festival Climbing hills
People started to climb hills in honor of the Chonyang festival in ancient times and the practice continues strongly today. As all the celebrations of Double Ninth Festival are held in autumn, and people think is a great day to enjoy the pleasant weather before cool winter coming. People climbing the hills to get some exercise as well as enjoy the autumn scenery are the double purposes for people ascending the height. Ancient literary figures have left many poems depicting the activity. Even today, people still swarm to mountains or high pagoda on this day.  

Appreciating chrysanthemums
Since the Chongyang Festival is in the middle of autumn, chrysanthemums are in full bloom, so appreciating chrysanthemums becomes a key activity on this festival. From Song Dynasty, chrysanthemum show was held on Double Ninth Festival annually, displaying kinds of chrysanthemum in different shapes for watching and enjoying as ancient Chinese people though it could drive away evil spirits and prevent one from getting a chill in late autumn.      

Eating Chongyang cakes and drinking chrysanthemum wine
Traditional Food on Chongyang Festival is chrysanthemum wines and Double Ninth Gao (or Cake). Gao (or cake) has the same pronunciation with gao in Chinese (means high), made of rice and chrysanthemum, symbolizing the progress and promotion for the next year. The wine drinking on this day also made of chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemums are regarded as a kind of flower having the function of an antitoxin and can drive the evil away.People often think that by drinking chrysanthemum wine, all kinds of diseases and disasters can be cured and prevented.

Wearing cornels and chrysanthemum
 
The custom of wearing cornels and chrysanthemums on the arm, head or in the pocket became very popular during the Tang Dynasty. Women and children like to wear a fragrant pouch with dogwood sewed in. People believed that by wearing these plants, they would exorcise and ward off evil spirits.

Today's Chongyang becomes much meaningful. For example, it has been decided as Senior People's Day.  Members of a family also accompany their elders to have a relaxing day in a natural setting while wishing health and happiness upon them. On this day, senior people go out and enjoy themselves very much.

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